Race It: Badgerland Striders Track Meet

These days, you can run a local road race pretty much every weekend. But the opportunities to race on a track are few and far between. Luckily for MKE runners, the Badgerland Striders host several track meets throughout the spring and summer making it easy to test your speed on the oval.

Joining us today are event directors Alice and Ron Winkler. They’ve run the Strider track meets for 25 years and have all the info you need to jump in the upcoming meet.

To get started, let’s talk specifics: When is the May track meet and where will it be held?

The May Track meet is on Tuesday, May 30 at 6:30pm. It will be held at the St. Francis High School Track located at 4225 S. Lake Drive, across the street from the bike trail and Lake Michigan. It is on the boundary between St. Francis and Cudahy.

Who can participate? Do people need to register and, if so, is there a registration fee?

People of all ages and abilities are welcome to participate. This is a developmental meet. There is no registration and there is no entry fee. Consequently, there are no awards. Participants can just show up prior to the 6:30pm start and run in as many events as they want.

Which distances will be run at the meet?

There are no hurdles or field events. The events are: 100 meters, 200 meters. 400 meters, 800 meters, 1600 meters, and 3200 meters. The following relays will also be included: 4 x 100 and 4 x 400. Participants are welcome to compete in as many races as they like.

Will people run against others of similar gender, age, ability, etc?

Yes

A lot of newbie or slower runners may be hesitant to participate – are they still welcome to run? Are there any time requirements to participate?

This is a developmental track meet so there are no entry standards; all ages and abilities are welcome. The object is to have fun. We cheer each other on.

Let’s talk history: How long have these track meets been held and how did they get started? 

The track meets date from 1959 when the old Milwaukee Track Club (MTC) was founded by Jim Hanley and Brian Murphy. The MTC sponsored track meets and road runs. One of those road runs was a 10-mile race held for the first time in 1961. Today, under the auspices of the Badgerland Striders, it is Wisconsin’s oldest distance race, known as the Cudahy Classic; this year will be its 57th running.

Fast forward to 1973 when the well-organized MTC, with a large membership, lacked a base of operations. Conversely, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Track Club (UWM-Track Club), founded in 1972 with the intention of retaining post-college athletes, had few members. The two organizations merged to provide a home for the MTC and the opportunity to boost its image, while the UWM-Track Club gained the expertise and membership of the MTC.

By 1977, the UWM-Track Club, now separate from UWM and with members from all over Wisconsin, felt that the name limited the club geographically. In addition, the words “Track Club” bothered some people because the club was active in not only track and field, but also road running and cross country.

We (Alice and Ron Winkler) have been in charge of these track meets for about 25 years.

Has anything crazy or unexpected happened at any of the track meets in previous years?

We are literally next to the lake, so the track can be much cooler than the rest of the Milwaukee metropolitan area. Many times people arrive at the track unprepared for the cooler weather. In addition, the weather at the track can change unexpectedly when the wind shifts to the east. The wind coming off the lake can cause sunny and warm to become cloudy and even foggy with an accompanying temperature drop of twenty degrees or more.

Will additional BLS track meets be held this summer?

The other track meets will also be held at St. Francis High School Track at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, June 20 and Tuesday, July 11.

Thanks so much for chatting with us, Alice and Ron!

Who will we see at the upcoming BLS track meet? Which event(s) will you run?

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

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